Generations of the Hoare family have lived at, and loved Stourhead. The house in the country as an escape from London truly became their family home.Read More
Stourhead was one of the first grand Palladian-style villas to be built in England and as such it follows the correct tradition, where the carriage entrance leads to the piano nobile, or main floor, where the state rooms are arranged. Underneath in a semi-basement, lie the ‘engine rooms’ of the house – the kitchens, sculleries and offices. The house was intended to be the main country home for Henry Hoare I ‘the Good’ and his family, but unfortunately Henry passed away the same year that the house was completed.
With hills, water and classical architecture overlaid by a fabulous collection of trees and shrubs, Stourhead was described as ‘a living work of art’ when first opened in the 1740s. Meandering paths offer vistas through trees to classical temples and surprises at every turn.
Henry ‘the Magnificent’ was one of a small group of early eighteenth-century ‘gentleman gardeners’ using their acres to create a particularly personal landscape which expressed their hopes and beliefs about the world and their journey through it. His vision, recreating a classical landscape, depended on water.
The centre piece of the garden at Stourhead is the lake, which dictates the path you take and the views you enjoy. The damming of the river and the creation of the lake was an ambitious undertaking. Henry ‘the Magnificent’ and his architect Henry Flitcroft planned it before work began on the garden buildings such as the Temple of Flora, Pantheon and Grotto.
The original planting of the garden was undertaken by a team of 50 gardeners, who planted and tended beech, oak, sycamore, Spanish chestnut, ash and holm oak.